Vinyl. I’m not going to lie to you: I started watching this because I’m obsessed with Olivia Wilde’s face, no other reason. I’ve actually started following her make-up artist on Instagram just to get maximum Wilde coverage. Anyway, VINYL: in terms of pure cool, the series racked up an impressive set of credentials before it even aired – created by Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger, with Boardwalk Empire creator/Sopranos writer Terence Winter, Vinyl sort of had to be good. It’s faced its fair share of criticism – the two-hour Scorsese-directed pilot episode was hugely overdone – but damn, it’s got some killer dialogue, is achingly stylish, and Bobby Cannavale is pitch-perfect as the mood-swinging, cocaine-hoovering record label boss Richie Finestra. His hair alone could impregnate you through the screen, he’s so manly. Oh, and given the show’s early 70’s New York setting, you’d expect the soundtrack to be faultless, and it is.
Running. I started running again a couple of weeks ago after a four-month break, and was overjoyed to find that my legs remembered what to do, and that no-one had popped in and changed the rules while I’ve been away. I expected to be absolutely dead after the first couple of minutes, but rather pleasingly, this wasn’t [entirely] the case. I did manage to get tangled up in a lead that was attached to an amiable terrier as I pounded along the promenade, smug and oblivious, but the terrier and her owner took it rather well.
A Curious Career, Lynn Barber. My appetite for reading/hearing writers discussing their craft knows no bounds, and A Curious Career is totally and utterly delightful. You don’t need to know anything about Lynn Barber except that she’s a journalist and interviewer, and this book details some of the most important interviews of her career. The highlights for me were: Martin Clunes (a bad one; don’t tell my mum, she’s obsessed with Doc Martin), Shane MacGowan, and Rafael Nadal, who was, as I imagined, duller than a rainy weekend in Penarth. Barber’s skill at making great copy out of even the boring interviewees is genuinely impressive, but when her subjects are receptive and open, the resulting articles are completely fascinating.
Hollie Rogers. My music collection isn’t exactly crying out for another guitar-playing singer-songwriter. I’ve got enough of those to last until at least 2034, so in the event of a global shortage of minor chords and self-analytical lyrics, you know where to come. But when they’re this good, surely there’s room for one more. If I were you, I’d start with this incredibly sexy number, which wouldn’t sound out of place on an early Thea Gilmore album, and this absolute stunner that reminds me of Tracy Chapman and features Tom Holder on double bass, who a) is one of DB’s partners-in-noise, and b) a jolly nice chap with excellent hair.
Imagine if your whole life was defined by a poor decision you and your boss made when you were merely 22. How could you survive that? How could you carve out any sort of path of your own when seemingly the whole world has attached one thing, and one thing only, to your name? Jon Ronson’s interview with Monica Lewinsky, which appeared in yesterday’s Guardian, is firstly an excellent read, and secondly, incredibly thought-provoking, raising the issues of public shaming and online harrassment. I only vaguely remember the story breaking in 1998, but looking back now, it’s terrifying how coldly and callously Lewinsky – a 22-year-old girl – was treated by the media at the time. What she’s done since then is humbling; now an active, vocal anti-bullying advocate, her TED talk is well worth a watch. (TED talks are up there with cycling and cars in the list of things that bore me suicidal, but Lewinsky’s is a good’un.)
The 1975, I Like It When You Sleep Because I Can Get A Needlessly Long Album Title Out of It (that’s not what it’s actually called; I just like being facetious). I’m quite late to the preposterously-monikered second album because the wonderful Drummer Boy bought it for me on vinyl and we don’t have anything to play it on, and it took us two weeks to find the download code we’d been assured was included with the album. After scouring every inch of the cover, sleeve and records themselves, and frantically Googling “I Like It When You Sleep Because Oh Jesus, Whatevs, download code”, DB finally realised there was a tiny card tucked in somewhere and on it was the elusive code. ANYWAY. Now I can listen to it in all its ’80s-tastic glory.
I’ve written about The 1975 before and I know they’re A Bit Divisive – are they a Proper Band? Are they just One Direction-lite with guitars and ideas above their station? I really like them, and not even because I’m keen on every single track – they just seem to have such a vision, and such ambition, and that seems to be quite rare in young rock bands these days (oh God, I sound 45, don’t I? Shit). There’s long been a trend for bands, when they become successful, to go “oh, us? Little old us? We made this record in our granny’s garage, we really weren’t thinking we’d sell more than 4. The cat wrote half the basslines, honestly.” Not Matt Healy. By all accounts, he makes an amazing interviewee (take this one from 2013, and this one from February), and as well as giving exceptionally good quote, he can also write a cracking song. The Sound is such a dancey, joyful little anthem that I can now forgive the lyrical clanger of “don’t call it a spade if it isn’t a spade” from ‘City’ on their first record.
And finally, to face stuff. Liz Earle does the best cleanser, no questions asked – there are few pleasure in life that beat coming home after work, taking off one’s bra and slathering one’s face in Hot Cloth cleanser, then scrubbing said face with a properly hot flannel. However, £15.50 for 100ml isn’t always bank-balance-friendly, so now high street pharmacy brands have got on board with hot cloth cleansers, it’s time to look at other options. This Sanctuary one was on offer when I bought it, and it’s every bit as good as the Liz Earle one, and leaves my temperamental face feeling clean and soft, which is the idea, really. The only thing that bothers me about it is that it smells weird. Not entirely unpleasant, just rather aniseedy, or liquoricey. And I have an incredibly poor sense of smell, so if I’m noticing it, then God knows what it smells like to people with normal noses. But I can live with it, and so can my face, which is the important thing. It comes with a muslin cloth but experience has taught me that these are completely useless, and you need an old-school flannel instead. The muslin ones make great dusters, if you’re so inclined.